Industry group Archers the Strata Professionals said that that Queensland government's proposed changes to residential tenancy laws may be for the majority's welfare, but they could be futile given that most rental properties are in community title schemes governed by bodies corporate.
The Palaszczuk government is consulting with landlords and the rental property industry across the state to assess the residential tenancy laws. The process is set to be completed by the end of November.
Some of the issues to be discussed include pet ownership and how it could be made easier for landlords and tenants to agree on households keeping pets, according to Mick de Brenni, minister for housing and public works.
However, Grant Mifsud, a professional partner at Archers the Strata, pointed out that the issue, together with other home alterations such as permitting property occupants to change window coverings, are often decided by a body corporate committee and their strata scheme’s by-laws.
“Bodies corporates are like a fourth layer of government, except it’s the unit owners and not public servants who make up the committee and make the majority of decisions,” Mifsud said. “These decisions deal with situations that affect people’s living arrangements. As a tenant or owner within a strata property, it’s important to be aware of the things you can and can’t do in your strata scheme.”
Mifsud further highlighted that some bodies corporate have by-laws called prohibitive by-laws, which can disallow tenants and owners from having animals in their properties. These laws can come without exception or prohibit all animals of a certain type, such as cats, dogs, or dogs over 10kg.
As such, the committee cannot approve keeping of an animal that the by-laws prohibit.
Tenants will potentially be required to ask the body corporate for permission to keep an animal, as long as the by-laws and their tenancy agreement allow it.
There is an option to dispute the decision and to seek advice through an independent organisation that understands body corporate regulations, if an application is not approved.
Mifsud reiterated that being familiar with the scheme’s by-laws is essential. Cases of residents breaching by-laws that do not apply to stand-alone houses must be addressed.
Common sources of strata-scheme issues usually involve pets, parking, parties, passive smoking, hanging unsightly laundry from the balcony as well as the behaviour of visitors.
“It’s always best to familiarise yourself with your strata scheme by-laws and play within the rules to help maintain harmony,” Mifsud said.